What if Jesus wants you to uncover the dazzling God-image that burns in your heart?
What if your most important job might be to ensure that fire does not go out?
If you’re like me, a part of you might think that sounds good, but another part of you might feel hesitant, thinking: doesn’t Jesus call us to deny ourselves (Matthew 16:24)?
You might be asking yourself, how does what I want factor in to following Him?
It’s a good question, and one that I have wrestled with in my own life. It’s my belief that when Jesus said to deny yourself, he understood a critical difference between denying your “selfishness” and denying your God-given, imago-bearing “self”.
It is a difference that is critical for women—and the men who love them—to understand.
When women (or anyone) are shoved aside, shamed, pushed down, or devalued, the words “deny yourself” get twisted in a damaging way and get translated in our minds as:
- Shouldn’t I always sacrifice?
- It’s selfish to state my own wants and needs.
- It’s wrong to cultivate my talents or pursue dreams held within me.
- I should never consider myself in any decision I make.
What Every Woman Needs to Know about Boundaries
The problem is that this extreme understanding flies in the face of Jesus’s teaching and example. Here are just a few illustrations:
—He emphasizes the importance of cultivating one’s talents in a pretty dramatic way (Matthew 25:14-30)
Yet, many women have been encouraged to “deny yourself” at the expense of other key messages, including receiving love, support, and inspiration from God and others, sharing our wants and needs, and cultivating our talents.
The result? Setting healthy boundaries poses unique challenges for women, because we’ve been taught to deny ourselves sacrificially without a counter-balancing message.